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Top Fantasy Football Performers: Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, More Week 17 Highlights

Dec 31, 2018 8:44 PM EST
Credit:

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8).

  • Week 17 had everything -- blowouts, must-win games, game-winning drives and good old fashioned drama.
  • Ravens rookie QB Lamar Jackson led his team into the playoffs with a spectacular rushing performance.
  • Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin scored his first career touchdown, then added two more for good measure.

Before we move on to the Wild Card round, let’s break down some key fantasy football performances from Week 17.

Sunday featured an alarming number of blowouts with the Patriots, Lions, Texans, Bills, Panthers, Bears, Chargers, Rams, Eagles and the Chiefs notching double-digit victories.

Meanwhile, the Eagles made the playoffs thanks to a victory over the Redskins coupled by a Vikings loss to the Bears, and the Ravens sealed up the AFC North with a victory over Baker Mayfield and the Browns.

The following players were the brightest stars at their positions this week.

Fantasy Quarterback of the Day: Josh Allen

Allen looked as good as he has all season, completing 17-of-26 passes (65%) for 224 yards (8.6 Y/A) with three touchdowns and one interception during the Bills’ 42-17 victory over the Dolphins.

The win served as a retirement gift of sorts for defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who even managed to catch the first pass of his 13-year career on Sunday.

Jumbo-package goodness aside, it’s the first-round pick’s rushing ability that has truly given opposing defense’s fits. Allen’s 631 yards and eight rushing touchdowns are the fourth and third-highest marks ever by a rookie quarterback.

He ran for at least 90 yards in four of his six games upon returning from injury in Week 12, joining only Cam Newton (4), Russell Wilson (6) and Michael Vick (15) as quarterbacks who have racked up that many games during their respective careers over the past 20 years.

The Bills’ first-round pick didn’t exactly supersede expectations this season, but Allen consistently demonstrated a fantasy-friendly mix of rushing and deep-ball passing.  His fantasy stock could further improve in 2019 if the Bills can surround him with more competent receivers.

Fantasy Running Back of the Day: C.J. Anderson

Todd Gurley who? Just kidding, but seriously what are they putting in the water in Los Angeles?

CJA was unstoppable again Sunday for the second time in as many weeks. The Rams’ temporary No. 1 running back converted 23 carries into 132 yards (5.7 YPC) and a touchdown with another three receptions and 22 receiving yards against the 49ers’ over-matched defense.

Anderson went for 167 yards and a touchdown in Week 16 against the Cardinals and has clearly earned head coach Sean McVay’s trust while Todd Gurley (knee) is sidelined. There has been no indication that Gurley is at risk of missing action during the playoffs, but the Rams’ backfield is implausibly in great hands either way.

Turns out running behind the league’s No. 1 offensive line in adjusted line yards has its benefits (Football Outsiders).

Fantasy Wide Receiver of the Day: Chris Godwin

Season-long fantasy owners didn’t get much production from Godwin when they needed him during the fantasy playoffs, but the Buccaneers’ second-year receiver showed off his tantalizing upside against the Falcons in Week 17.

  • Weeks 14-16: 19 targets | 4 receptions | 52 yards | 0 TDs
  • Week 17: 9 targets | 6 receptions | 114 yards | 2 TDs

Godwin has everything you look for in a wide receiver in terms of athleticism. Per PlayerProfiler.com, he’s a top-tier athlete in the 40-yard dash (89th-percentile among all wide receivers), Speed Score (90th), Burst Score (67th), Agility Score (73rd) and Catch Radius (78th). Overall, Godwin’s 128.3 SPARQ-x score ranks in the 95th-percentile among all wide receivers.

Somehow just 22-years old, Godwin figures to be at the top of most 2019 breakout lists considering the Buccaneers are expected to move on from DeSean Jackson. Tampa Bay’s offense looks tantalizingly explosive on paper with Godwin, Mike Evans and Adam Humphries joining tight end O.J. Howard in three-receiver sets.

Fantasy Tight End of the Day: Blake Jarwin (seriously)

The Cowboys wound up playing Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper for all 60 minutes of their Week 17 win over the Giants. This wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if they didn’t choose rest their Pro Bowl teammates Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Alas, Prescott (387 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) was pretty spectacular throughout the Cowboys’ 36-35 victory, but he couldn’t have done it without the services of new-found BFF Blake Jarwin.

The Cowboys tight end caught 7-of-8 targets for 119 yards and three (!!!) touchdowns. Jarwin had just 20 receptions for 188-scoreless yards in 16 career games entering Sunday, as the Cowboys have largely utilized a committee approach at the position this year.

This performance should undoubtedly help earn Jarwin some additional playing time moving forward, although Jarwin (17 snaps) actually worked behind rookie Dalton Schultz (44) for most of Sunday afternoon. Both players will continue to boast a low-floor during the playoffs in the Cowboys’ run-first offense.

The Chiefs Took Care of Business in Style

It didn’t take long for the Chiefs to take control of their Week 17 matchup against the Raiders. In fact, it took just six offensive plays.

Mahomes finished 14-for-24 (58%) for 281 yards (11.7 Y/A) with two touchdowns and one interception. The Chiefs’ second-year quarterback is this writer’s pick for the 2018 MVP award after putting up some of the most ridiculous numbers the position has ever seen.

  • Passing yards: 5,097 (10th-most ever)
  • Passing touchdowns: 50 (T-2nd)
  • Fantasy points: 417 (1st)

Only LaDainian Tomlinson (425.1) in 2006 managed to rack up more standard fantasy points among all positions in NFL history.

Tyreek Hill (WR7) and Travis Kelce (TE1) also finished as top-five PPR performers at their respective positions, while whoever worked as the offense’s starting running back largely dominated for most of the season.

The Chiefs clinched the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed Sunday and will have a bye week before taking on their first challenger from the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium.

Lamar Jackson Leads the Ravens to the Playoffs

The Ravens are set to play meaningful January football for the first time since 2014. Their old-school run-first offense has been spearheaded by the talents of the electric Lamar Jackson, who will end his rookie season with the third-most rushing yards among all rookie quarterbacks in NFL history.

Sunday’s division-clinching performance against the Browns might’ve just been Jackson’s finest performance yet. He completed 14-of-24 passes (58%) for 179 yards (7.5 Y/A) while rushing for another 90 yards and two touchdowns.

Jackson along with running backs Gus Edwards (12-76-0) and Kenneth Dixon (12-117-0) form the league’s most-diverse and potent rushing attack. The Ravens are an environment-agnostic team thanks to their ability to run the ball and play elite defense.

It remains to be seen if Jackson can move the ball effectively enough through the air to keep pace in potential shootouts vs. the likes of Mahomes. Either way, his dual-threat ability has energized the Ravens and has them positioned to make a playoff run.

DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jalen Ramsey – Winner: Nuk

Hopkins and Ramsey have supplied some of the league’s most competitive and entertaining battles in recent memory during their six career matchups against each other, but there was a clear winner on Sunday.

The Texans offense is undoubtedly more explosive when fully equipped with all of their weapons (Read: Will Fuller), but Deshaun Watson and Hopkins have proven to be more than capable of consistently defeating top-tier cornerbacks all season long. The league’s premiere contested-catch artist finished the season with career-best marks in receptions (115), yards (1,572) and catch rate (70.5%).

The Texans unfortunately weren’t able to secure a first-round bye. Still, Watson and Hopkins will get at least one home game to test their rapport for the first time in the playoffs.

That Saquon Barkley 

It’s tough to understate just how good Barkley was during his first NFL season. As far as fantasy is concerned, he was quite literally the best rookie running back we’ve ever seen.

Barkley’s Week 17 performance against the Cowboys featured 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go along with another four receptions and 33 yards through the air. This young man is apparently even capable of flying into the end zone.

It remains to be seen if Eli Manning’s corpse will be under center again in 2019, but the Giants at least have a true generational talent at running back who appears plenty capable of making fantasy investors proud for the foreseeable future.

Hurt in Battle and Returning Soldiers

There were plenty of key injuries on both sides of the ball this week. We won’t know more about Wild Card availability until later in the week, but the following skill-position players will certainly be worth monitoring:

  • Taylor Gabriel, WR, Bears (shoulder)
  • Anthony Miller, WR, Bears (shoulder)
  • Nick Foles, QB, Eagles (chest)
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